A Coun­try Life

The Mauch­line fam­ily turn to team­work to res­cue a sheep in deep muddy trou­ble.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - Words Hope Mauch­line (14)

Choco­late-dipped sheep

Amy started run­ning at the let­ter­box and didn’t stop un­til she got to the car­port.

“Mum, there’s a sheep stuck in the pond! There’s a sheep stuck in the pond!”

Mum and the other chil­dren fol­lowed the ex­cited ed Amy as she dashed back down the long drive­way. Four pet tur­keys de­cided to join the party too.

“How’s that for a choco­late-coated sheep?” Hope grinned. They were stand­ing on the bank of what had been a pond but over the hot dry sum­mer, pond wa­ter had evap­o­rated, leav­ing a muddy mire.

“Take some lay­ers of clothes off Hope,” Mum sug­gested. “The mud is go­ing to weigh you down.”

“Not un­til my an­i­mal res­cue col­league gets here,” she joked.

Her older brother Jonathan soon ap­peared – he’d had to fin­ish break­fast first – whipped off his jersey, flopped off his jan­dals and fol­lowed Hope down to the edge of the pond. The mud sucked at their legs as they waded un­steadily through the bog to the sheep. It flinched, try­ing to es­cape.

“It’s no use,” Hope con­soled the sheep, wip­ing mud away from its muz­zle. Jon Jonathan pushed h his way be­hind the sheep, as­sess­ing the sit­u­a­tion fur­ther. “Let’s try and lift it.” They pulled at the sheep as hard a as they could. It didn’t budge. “I “It’s like what King David in the Bi­ble wrote,” said Mum. “I sink in deep mire, where there is no stand­ing,” she quoted. “He was right,” Hope said em­phat­i­cally. “There’s def­i­nitely no firm ground un­der here.” She slapped the mud with her hand. “It would help if we had some­thing to stand on or some­thing that doesn’t suck at your legs so hard you can’t move,” said Jonathan. “Could you guys go and get a plank of wood and a tar­pau­lin please? Or this sheep ain’t go­ing nowhere.” “What about that blue plas­tic bar­rel you cut in half length­wise for slid­ing down the hill on?” of­fered Mum. “Yes, that too,” said Jonathan. “Yell very loudly if any­thing goes wrong.” She and Re­bekah trekked back up the hill to the house. Hope flicked the mud off her hands and ran her fin­gers along her now brown legs. “Look, Jono,” she laughed. “I’m a ze­bra.” Her fin­gers had left stripes of pale skin.

“You can’t get away from me now,” Jonathan hurled a mud ball at his squeal­ing sis­ter.

“Stop it!” she gig­gled, wip­ing the mess off her face, leav­ing a big­ger mark from her filthy fin­gers.

“We’re com­ing!” Re­bekah’s voice echoed down the slope a few min­utes later.

“Could you throw us one of the bar­rel halves,” called Hope.

Mum threw, but the bar­rel landed short. Hope stretched to­wards the bar­rel, strain­ing against the mud as it clung to her legs.

“Got it!” she de­clared tri­umphantly.

“Pass it here, please,” said Jonathan. He sat on the half bar­rel and re­turned his at­ten­tion to the sheep. “We need to lever it up onto my knee,” he de­cided. He turned to Hope who was on the op­po­site side of the an­i­mal.

“See that half fen­ce­post over there?” Hope nod­ded. “Can you reach it?”

Lean­ing over as far as she could, Hope grabbed onto the fence post and pulled. It slowly slid to­wards her; with another hard yank she had it at her side.

“Shove it down be­side the sheep,” Jonathan in­structed. “Then sit on the end.” Hope wedged the post down be­side the sheep, then strug­gling against

there’s def­i­nitely no firm ground un­der here

the suck of the mud, sat on the other end of the post. The sheep slowly el­e­vated and with a pull from Jonathan it was on his knee.

“If you put the tarp un­der its legs, you could slide it onto the grass,” sug­gested Mum, hand­ing the tar­pau­lin to Hope. “Re­bekah and Amy, could you go and get some bot­tles of wa­ter so we can wash off the sheep’s face once they’ve got it out?”

“Yes, Mum,” and they trudged back up the hill.

“I shouldn’t have to do fit­ness for another week,” Re­bekah called. “Or another month.” “You wish!” Mum chuck­led. Hope tugged the tar­pau­lin, po­si­tion­ing it un­der the sheep’s fore­quar­ters. Jonathan shift the heavy, woolly mass off his knees onto the tar­pau­lin. The sheep’s wool held the mud like a sponge. He ma­noeu­vred his way in front of the sheep, grab­bing its forelegs. With Hope push­ing and Jonathan pulling, the sheep was soon on firm ground.

The girls re­turned with a heavy back­pack of wa­ter bot­tles.

Hope was strad­dling the sheep’s back to pre­vent it es­cap­ing. “Could you throw a bot­tle here please?”

“For you or the sheep?” laughed Mum. Hope and Jonathan were muddy. It smoth­ered their arms and legs, and was smat­tered all over their faces and hair.

Once its muz­zle was clear of mud, the sheep stood up, teetered and wob­bled off into the pas­ture. The tarp was left to dry off in the sun, and they set off home for a hose down and a hot shower. “High five,” said Hope to Jonathan, hold­ing up a mud-cov­ered hand. “Do you want a hug, Mum?” Jonathan grinned and reached out with his muddy arms. “No way!” ex­claimed Mum, dodg­ing out of the way. “Can I hose you down when we get home, Hope?” gig­gled Amy, en­joy­ing the idea of the op­por­tu­nity to squirt her big sis­ter. “Yes, if you re­ally want,” an­swered Hope. They am­bled back, the tur­keys trail­ing be­hind them, ev­ery­one head­ing home now the fun was over.

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